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Patrol Rifle as Close Quarters Weapon

If you haven't trained to engage a suspect at less than 100 yards with your patrol rifle, start now.

February 05, 2010  |  by Michael T. Rayburn - Also by this author

Close-Quarters Capabilities

To understand the weapon's true capabilities in close quarters, you need to temporarily remove any fancy sighting systems from the firearm. Dot this, laser that, halo whatever; get rid of all of them. The iron sights the rifle came with are just fine. If you've found that a scope is beneficial-perhaps because you live in a sparsely populated area-great. But if you're like most of us, you're not going to have the room or the backstop to justify its limited use, or spending the money on scopes for all of your patrol rifles.

In close quarters, you don't even need your sights. At 25 yards and closer, you can easily place quick and effective rounds into the center mass area of a target. In my CQB Patrol Rifle class, the students routinely place quick, effective rounds into an eight-inch paper plate, and they do that while shooting and moving.

Think about this for just a second. When you're going down that hallway, clearing the building, looking for the bad guy, are you looking at your rifle, or are you looking down the hallway in case the bad guy jumps out at you? At that high-risk traffic stop, are you looking through the sights of your rifle with one eye closed, or are both of your eyes open in case someone in the car decides that he'd rather go down fighting than go back to jail?

In both cases, both of your eyes will be open. If you close one eye to get some type of traditional sight picture-with whatever sighting system you use-you limit your field of view.

To illustrate this, take your safe and empty patrol rifle and bring it up to your shoulder in the "traditional manner" that most of us have been taught. Get that "perfect cheek weld" to the buttstock of the firearm, and close one eye to align your sights. Keeping your eye closed and looking straight ahead, determine the parameters of your peripheral view. In layman's terms, how much of the surrounding area can you see without moving your eye?

Now bring the rifle's buttstock up to your shoulder, but this time don't "weld" your cheek to the buttstock. Keep your head square, and lower your chin. Lowering your chin is something we do naturally and instinctively under stress, so why not train that way? Keep both of your eyes open and look forward, as if you were looking down that hallway for the bad guy to pop out.

Also, square your body straight ahead to the target area. We don't blade our bodies under stress, and who clears a hallway in a building with their body bladed anyway? You'll notice that when you square your body, the end of the rifle's barrel will naturally align with the centerline of your body, so wherever you turn, or pivot to, your rifle will automatically point straight ahead on target. Now check out your peripheral vision. Has it greatly improved? Does it seem more natural, and realistic, to you?

Developing Realistic Training

That's what this is all about, to train the way we fight. When some departments made the switch from shotguns to patrol rifles, they followed the same reasoning they used for their shotgun training, and that was to do very limited training. When asked, one department stated their rifle training mirrored their shotgun training, five rounds once a year.

Other departments are a little more progressive, but most don't require their officers to shoot while moving. One department stated that if their officers don't "plant their feet" before firing, they are reprimanded on the range. Considering the dynamics of an actual shooting, that really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Most officer-involved shootings, even with a patrol rifle, involve both of the parties moving. If that's the case, then again we need to train the way we fight.

When developing a patrol rifle training program, or for that matter any firearms training program, our training needs to reflect what actually occurs out on the street in the real world. We need to think outside of the box of that square range. If we move during a shooting incident, then we must train our officers to shoot while moving. If we deploy the patrol rifle in close quarters situations inside of a building, then we must teach sternum shooting and other close-quarter tactics. If we deploy the patrol rifle at traffic stops, then we must teach officers how to shoot in and around their vehicles, even through their vehicles. If we want officers to use cover as much as possible, then we must teach them how to use cover effectively when deploying the patrol rifle.

Should we train for that 100-yard shot? Yes, because it is realistic. But it is just as important to train for the close quarters situations where the patrol rifle is most often deployed. That 300-yard shot is nice to make on the range, but it isn't likely to be used in real life. So keep it real and train the way you fight.

Michael T. Rayburn has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement and is the author of four books. He is an adjunct instructor for Smith & Wesson and is the owner of Rayburn Law Enforcement Training. He can be reached via [email protected]

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Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

tpd223 @ 2/9/2010 11:27 PM

I seriously wish that Police magazine would quit publishing articles by Mr. Rayburn.

This is the same guy who advised officers that to win a close range fight using their duty pistols they should forget their sights, use point shooting, and jerk the trigger "as hard and as fast as possible".

While some of this article is correct, other parts are way off base. Now he is advocating virtually the same thing with the carbine, while also recommending that they not utilize proven gunfighting gear such as Aimpoint sights.

Perhaps you could have a counter point article by other trainers far more qualified to render and opinion, such as Pat Rogers, Scott Reitz, Vince O'Neill, etc., advice which would be completely opposite of Mr. Rayburn's.

I seriously hope Mr. Rayburns articles aren't taken seriously by any coppers or military folks as he is going to get a good guy killed.


Lt. Chuck Haggard

GrumpyGrizz @ 2/10/2010 12:39 AM

The only thing I learned by reading this article is that the author hasn't been paying attention to CQB technology or tactics in the past 10 years. Remove the RDS or optics? Why? I find it odd that in the same article I read, "we are accountable for every round we send downrange" and " you don't even need your sights". Come again?

Punisher @ 2/15/2010 12:57 PM

Really? Agencies are just now getting rifles? What era is the author in? My Department of just four Officers has had patrol rifles for the better part of a decade and are all trained tactically on them. We don't grab a shotgun anymore, we grab the rifle (and every magazine we can stuff into our emergency bag. I carry my own rifle and have since graduating the academy. Yes, you can "reach out and touch someone" @ distance w/ a patrol rifle. But why? At that distance, you have time to look for other options. Training and thinking behind the gun should be stressed. Working out problems. Transistioning to your secondary weapon. Clearing malfunctions. This article hits on none of that. Outdated is what the article is. Optics are another great tool to have on a rifle with good back up training in iron sights. Trigger control. And why on earth would you fire from the hip like the picture of the article portrays? You may hit the guy close but his buddy who is out 30 more yards behind cover will have the drop on you has you flail about trying to shoulder the weapon. poor poor tactics.

Stro @ 2/23/2010 5:05 PM

Being a 20 year NYS "Road" Trooper, I will back up Mr. Rayburn and his training tactics.
Lt. Haggard, I believe you may be too far removed from the road to understand close combat - we are trained in this manner and Mr. Rayburn never advised anyone to "jerk" the trigger.
GrumpyGrizz and Punisher, we are just beginning to see patrol rifles on our job, we have ONE per station assigned to one person. We are still waiting for the funding to get them, and you are dreaming to think NYS will buy us "optics". Iron sights only.
I don't know what dream agencies you guys work for with unlimited budgets, but I would like to work in one of them.
Mr. Rayburn deals in the realities of our line of work. Not TV and movie combat. Most shootings are so fast and so close that sights are a luxury. We train point shoot at anything 15 yards and closer.
With practice, 25 yard point shoot is accurate enough to win the fight.

Punisher @ 2/25/2010 6:38 AM

Yes, agencies are facing budget problems. Yes, not everyone has patrol rifles. We have them available to us. I personally carry my own and purchased it myself as well as the optics, magazines, and all teh bells and whistles that go with it. I see it like this; everyone should be trained on as many things as they can. Shotgun. Rifle. Tape measures. Less Leathal. Accident. Homicide. Anything we can learn will help us do our job better. There are thousands of different ways to train or to learn and do things. Agreed. Consistency in training between all weapons as well as realizing and understanding HICKS Law is best. Again, with patrol tactics becoming more and more "tactical" in nature (as they should be), why not train to the most up to date methods and those that are fastest efficiency wise. Less movement, less thinking, more training. Put yourself in training situations that are more real world.

Sergeant L Huckstadt @ 5/3/2012 12:31 PM

For over 35 years I have heard the point shoot crowd verbally fighting it out with the sights always in line gang! Its no wonder new officers pay thousands of dollars to attend Zen like masters who teach them techniques that administrators have nightmares about only to find a lone voice or two like Pat Rodgers or Clint Smith offering some common sense. Why can't we learn to blend the two camps together and accept each jurisdiction will have its own methods that protect their officers. Semper Fi!

Mike Rayburn @ 8/31/2016 5:23 AM

For well over 20 years, every time I write about point shooting, whether it's with a handgun, rifle, or shotgun, I've been told I'm "going to get guys killed" just like what Lt. Chuck Haggard has stated, and yet every time just the opposite happens. Every time I write about point shooting I'll get anywhere from 20 - 40 phone calls and emails from guys that have been involved in an officer involved shooting (OIS), with some having been involved in multiple shootings. They thank me for "having the courage to tell the truth" about what happens in an OIS. The conversations most always start off with them telling me about their shooting incident, and then they tell me, "what you said in your article, is exactly what happened to me". So go ahead and keep telling me I'm going to "get guys killed", because I know the truth, and the truth is you've got your head buried in the sand, or somewhere else, and you refuse to look at the facts of an actual OIS, but instead pretend to be all knowing.

Carl Dodd @ 3/19/2017 11:02 PM

Point shooting does have its uses. Before going to Viet Nam many us infantrymen were taught how to do it while going through a course titled "Quick Kill Training." Look it up. After we got to Nam some of us went through more point shooting and high speed shooting training. I now have over 43+ years in law enforcement and teach firearms and shooting techniques to younger officers. Both point shooting and aimed, deliberate fire have served me well. The key is being smart enough to know which one to use and when to use the right one.

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